What is Literature?

English 239
Professor Alisse Theodore
Winter 2000

The course information and schedule of assignments for this course are now available at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~alisse/ENGL239w00.html.

Please note that the course description below is a slightly revised (and more accurate)
description than the one provided in the on-line guide by the English Department.

Hello. If you are here, you are probably considering taking this section of "What is Literature?" in the winter term. Although I won't have a schedule of assignments ready until December, you can get a sense of my teaching philosophy and thoughts for this course by looking at the website for the section of English 239 that I am teaching right now (fall 1999).

Please note that a few things--for example, the list of books we will read and the kind of writing we will do--will be different. To get a sense of the difference, you may want to compare winter term's course description (given below) to the first few paragraphs of the fall term's course information.

If you have questions, feel free to email me.

Good luck with the rest of your fall term.

Course Description for English 239, Winter 2000
**Note: This course description is slightly modified from the description published by the English Department.**

What is literature? In this class, we will read, discuss, and write about five American texts, probably Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave; Mary Austin's Stories from the Country of Lost Borders; Gertrude Stein's Three Lives; Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man; and Walker Percy's The Second Coming. Though the texts are quite varied, each of course uses language to express ideas and shape meanings. Who has access to such a powerful tool? Who doesn't? How does the way something is expressed--for example, its style, the patterns of the language, a particular narrative focus--shape the meanings we make? And why does any of this matter? In our exploration of these issues, students will participate in class discussions and work on their own writing, producing ocassional short, informal writings for homework (less than 1 page each) and three papers (3-5 pages each).